Land grabbing:

 Is the EU the largest net importer of agricultural produce and ‘virtual’ land?


EU has become the world’s largest net importer of agricultural produce, and therefore the largest user of agricultural land that is not its own.

"The policies to achieve the EU’s 10% biofuel objective would also increase the rate of land-grabs" says the OPERA report (1).  

“The term ‘land grabbing’ has hugely emotive connotations but the EU has to acknowledge the global implications of its policy decisions and the effects generated by not tackling the issue of competitiveness and productivity of European agriculture.” said the OPERA’s Policy Team Coordinator, Alexandru Marchis.

The Humboldt University/agripol analysis shows that between 1999 and 2008 Europe’s use of foreign land for its own agricultural production has grown by 40%, or 10 million hectares. It also increase greenhouse gas emissions from the conversion from forests, grasslands and refuge into cropland.


(1) The OPERA report is called ‘EU Agricultural Production and Trade: Can More Efficiency Prevent Increasing ‘Land-Grabbing’ Outside Of Europe?‘.

Note that this study was developed, at the request of a number of stakeholders from the agri-food sector, to provide a scientific evaluation and policy recommendations on the subject. The paper has also benefited from the sponsorship of Bayer CropScience and Syngenta that give one direction to conclusions.

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